Animal Kingdom, Disney’s fourth theme park in Orlando, turned 20 last year and for as long as I can remember my daughter Madison has been begging to go to Walt Disney World and specifically Animal Kingdom. The best attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are
be The extravagant Pandora—The World of Avatar expansion opened in May, adding a veneer of alien splendor to what was already the most beautifully designed park at Walt Disney World. With Pandora’s two new attractions, and the new nighttime show Rivers of Light, you could easily spend an entire day at Animal Kingdom, marveling at animals in realistic habitats, taking in a number of live shows, and then braving some of the most exciting rides in Orlando. If you’re wondering what to prioritize during your day at the park, check out our list below, and plan those Fast Passes accordingly. Don’t stress too much about packing all this in, though: the park itself is so breath-taking that you’ll have an unforgettable time even if you don’t make it onto every ride and attraction.
My daughter Madison had been begging me to take her to Disney and specifically Disney’s Animal Kingdom for as long as I can remember and the answer was always NO! I didn’t think it was economical to go to Disney when there are so many things to do and see that is closer than Orlando.
Guess I am going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom
I was never really pressed about taking Madison to Disney because Madison is a well-traveled little girl and we live in Tennessee and that drive to Orlando with motor mouth of south did not look appealing to me but here I was about to drive to Orlando so I decided to get busy planning my baby girls first trip to Disney.
Here are my tips to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to help your family plan the Ultimate Disney Vacation.
I was told Disney’s Animal Kingdom is grossly underrated and doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. The park, featuring both animal and non-animal attractions, goes a long way when it comes to making magical vacation memories with your family.
Keep the following tips in mind, as you plan your Animal Kingdom adventure. They’re provided here in hopes of making your stay more enjoyable than ever and it helped my family navigate through Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Rent a Car
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a bit out of the way compared to other Disney World parks. However, it’s well worth the visit. If you don’t want to ride the shuttle bus to and from the kingdom, renting a car is an optional choice. It’s easy, thanks to Disney’s on-site Car Care Center. Book your rental through either National Car Rental or Alamo Rent-a-Car.
Get There Early
Much like other Disney parks, it’s best to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom early to enjoy some of the attractions before lines begin to form. Try to time it so you’re there about a half an hour before the gates open. This ultimately puts you closer to the front of the line… right, where you want to be!
Here’s an extra tip. If your wait seems super-long, walk to the rear of the Rainforest Café. Many guests are unaware of an additional entrance located there.
Once inside the park, head straight for the attractions you’re most interested in. Jot down a list, to take with you. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by other activities or gift vendors. If you do, you’re likely to end up waiting in line after all.
Cool Off at Lunch
On a hot day, walking around Disney’s Animal Kingdom is quite exhausting. Give your family a break from the midday sun, by treating them to lunch while the temperature is at its hottest. This is a win-win situation… the perfect way to avoid the heat as well as eating a yummy meal. Everyone gets a boost of energy, which will no doubt last for the remainder of the day.
Make Use of Fastpass+ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Using FastPass+, it’s easy to reserve seats on or for Disney park rides and attractions, allowing you to skip the line when it’s your turn. There are several popular choices in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that integrate with fastpass+ including Primeval Whirl, Kilimanjaro Safaris, DINOSAUR and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
FastPass+ means your group won’t waste a large chunk of time waiting in line at this popular park. Make these reservations using the My Disney Experience app, available on the App Store and Google Play, even before your trip begins.
Check Out the Live Performances
A number of live performances take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, meant to educate and delight guests of all ages. Some of the shows, such as Finding Nemo-The Musical and the Festival of The Lion King, feature songs, dancing and many of your favorite characters from these specific Disney films.
There are also shows highlighting exciting members of the animal kingdom. One of which is Up! A Great Bird Adventure. Fans of the movie Up! will love this new entertainment experience, in which Russell discovers many interesting birds from around the globe.
Of course, you don’t have to take advantage of every tip listed here. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your family or travel group.
Where to Eat outside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you decide you have had enough of Disney and you are looking for a family-friendly place to eat look no further than Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville located at Univeral Studios.
There is a Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that my family visits quite frequently so when I found out there was one in Orlando I made sure I added Margaritaville to my Orlando bucket list.
Related Post: Spring Break at Margaritaville’s Island Hotel
Margaritaville Universal Studios did not disappoint and my family and I welcomed at the ultra-relaxed island life after spending 7 hours in the hustle and bustle of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were able to unwind and just relax while listening to live musicians playing Jimmy Buffett classic hit songs.
Fun For The Whole Family
The atmosphere is fun for the whole family and the highlight of Margaritaville was the eruption of the margarita-filled volcano at The Volcano Bar. The look of wonder and amazement in Madison’s eyes was all I needed to know we made the choice to have dinner at Margaritaville.
We were no longer worried about how long would we would have to stand in line or how bad our feet were hurting. The only thing we found ourselves only worrying about was deciding what to eat. There are so many choices to choose from items like Grilled Fish Tacos, a Cheeseburger in Paradise, the “Drunken” Shrimp Skillet, key lime pie or the landmark Chocolate Hurricane dessert.
Yall know I had to get a margarita in order to get back out and deal with the crowds of Disney! If you are looking for somewhere to just chill out and relax Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville should definitely be on the list for your next vacation to Orlando.
Back To Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Kilimanjaro Safaris: Animal Kingdom’s flagship safari ride through “natural” environments exposes visitors to a wide array of animals. The ride can be a little bit bumpy, but it adds an element of authenticity. I would suggest going in the afternoon because animals are not the most active first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.
I recommend using FastPass+ and trying to get on one of the last safaris of the day. Nothing beats a sunset ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris!
Avatar Flight of Passage – Walt Disney World’s newest ride and park goers climb aboard the back of a banshee and link to an avatar flying through Pandora for a simulator experience. This ride touches all of your senses from the banshee breath, the wind and spray of the ocean in your face, and smell plenty of flowers and others scents make this one epic ride.
Na’vi River Journey – The other attraction in Pandora – World of Avatar did not blow me away and in fact it was underwhelming. We boarded a slow-moving boat ride for a short boat ride through what a life like Avatar environment, encountering flora and fauna along the way. Although visually stimulating it was not worth the 2 hours we stood in line. We were very disappointed.
Expedition Everest – Everest-themed roller coaster that goes backward and encounters a Yeti. Expedition Everest is Disney’s biggest and fastest roller coaster. Expedition Everest has a minimum height requirement of 44″. It’s a good use of FastPass+, The lines appeared to be a little shorter first thing in the morning so definitely sign up for FastPass+.
Kali River Rapids – Whitewater raft ride spinning freely down a river through rainforest and ruins. Kali River Rapids has a pretty setting and my daughter loved it but she only was worried whether she was about to get soaked so she didn’t pay that much attention to the scenery. Kali River Rapids is also a good use of FastPass+.
It’s Tough To Be A Bug 3D show about the cast of A Bug’s Life. This is a prime example of how you use Disney characters to make an educational film feel like entertainment. This ride is a lot of fun and there are some great “interactive” moments in the show. FastPass+ is available.
Festival of the Lion King – Acrobats and singers perform in tribal attire and colorful costumes. There is also a parade floats with Lion King characters and other creatures enact scenes inspired by the Lion King. I don’t think there will be a line for this ride so need to use your FastPass+
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom? It’s possible to experience Disney’s Animal Kingdom® park in one day, including time to explore the animal exhibits, themed shops, restaurants and so much more.
Is Disney’s Animal Kingdom on your bucket list?